And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).
On Oct. 31, we will turn our porch lights on, set out a sign, and hand out king-sized candy bars to hundreds of kids, moms, dads and teens. Some will grumble that we receive sinners. But they said this of Jesus too.
Light of the World
Many Christians believe that handing out candy on Halloween is not a good idea. They assume, “If I hand out candy, I am advocating all this day stands for and will therefore compromise my witness as a Christian.” Yes, Halloween can stand for some really wicked things. Yes, it is a day when people worship Satan, demons and spiritual darkness. Yes, it is an excuse for unrepentant sinning. But we are the light of the world! Light is intended for darkness. Does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket (Matt. 5:15)?
The darker the day, the more the light stands out. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Who needs to see the light of Christ? Saints? Or sinners?
“As Jesus was at supper in his house, many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples. For there were many, and they followed Him. When the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, ‘How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard it, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance'” (Mark 2:15-17).
The gospel of Jesus Christ is for sinners. And how did Jesus, the Physician, engage those who were sick? He hung out with them, engaged with them, ate with them. If our Master, Jesus, spent time with sinners in this way, how can we think ourselves too “holy” to do the same? It was the Pharisees who saw themselves as too holy to engage with sinners on the ground level. Let us be like Jesus, not like those spiritually arrogant Pharisees.
For a moment, let’s imagine Jimmy and I are missionaries in a foreign country. We have just moved in and are still getting a feel for the culture and daily life of this country’s inhabitants. Very few know about Jesus, and ancestral worship is the most common religious practice. We have been praying about a way to get to know more people and have some opportunities to share about Jesus. Then we hear about a large ancestral worship festival in which all of the city will be attending. If you will only turn on your porch light, they will come to your door singing songs of praise to their ancestors.
As missionaries, we’d thank God for such a great opportunity! Instead of spending days looking for a single moment to get to know someone and talk about faith, we now have many who will come to our door with their mind already on spiritual things. I can’t imagine a more perfect opportunity to get to know these foreigners and talk about my faith!
This is exactly what Halloween can be for the Jesus followers in this country. Hopefully, we are already being missional in our neighborhoods, seeking to reach our neighbors with the good news of Jesus. So what a perfect day to get to know the families that live around us! On top of that, there is already an air of spirituality on this day. Yes, it has an evil spiritual feel, but it’s a perfect springboard to bring up the topic of life, death, hell, heaven and a great God who has defeated Satan on the cross through the unbelievable grace of sacrificing His Son on the behalf of sinners like us.
Jesus received sinners, so likewise, let us receive sinners.